Politics picks up pace in Assam ahead of next year’s assembly polls

Hindustan Times, Guwahati | By, Utpal Parashar
Aug 23, 2020 10:54 PM IST

There is a churn in Assam politics as state assembly elections approach.

The political temperatures in Assam, which is ravaged by the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the annual flood fury, are gradually rising as the assembly polls are less than eight months away.

BJP says it is looking to win 100 seats along with its allies in Assam polls next year.(ANI Photo/File)
BJP says it is looking to win 100 seats along with its allies in Assam polls next year.(ANI Photo/File)

New political outfits are being announced, old alliances are firming up and fresh alignments are taking shape with parties and politicians to woo the state’s 217,000 registered voters (going by the figure of last year’s parliamentary election).

In April 2016, the state’s voters sprang a surprise by ousting the 15-year-old Congress regime and replacing it with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who formed the government with the support of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF).

Both the BJP are the AGP are likely to stick to the alliance in the next year’s assembly polls as well.

But there’s no clarity yet from the BPF, a strong player in Bodo-populated four districts of lower Assam.

The BPF is upset with BJP over the deferment of the election to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which was under the BPF rule, due to Covid-19, and also because of the imposition of Governor’s rule in the four districts administered by it.

In the 2016 polls, the BJP had won 60 of the 126 assembly seats, while AGP and BPF had wrested 14 and 12 each, respectively. The Congress had secured 26 seats and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) got 13.

“For 2021, we are looking at bagging 100 plus seats along with our alliance partners, which could be the AGP, the BPF or any other party. The decision of selecting alliance partners and seat-sharing arrangements with them will be taken by the party’s central leadership,” said Assam BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.

While the BJP is aiming for another five-year term at power, the opposition Congress and the AIUDF sealed a grand alliance on Saturday for the next year’s assembly polls and hopes to bring the Left parties and others to unset the BJP-AGP-BPF coalition.

“We have formally decided to form a grand alliance against the BJP for next year’s polls. The Congress will play the role of a big brother in the alliance. We welcome others to join us. Decisions on seat-sharing arrangements and other issues will be taken later,” Ripun Bora, president, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), Assam and a Rajya Sabha (RS) member, told media persons on Sunday.

In recent weeks, BJP leaders have been targeting the Congress over its bid to tie-up with the AIUDF that was formally announced on Saturday.

State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who holds multiple portfolios, stated the alliance would turn the grand old party’s office in Guwahati, Rajiv Bhawan, into Ajmal Bhawan—after AIUDF chief and perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal.

“It’s an unholy alliance. AIUDF was formed with the intention of safeguarding the interests of suspected foreigners and the Congress has also been dependent on that section of voters. The coming together of these parties is a dangerous sign for all self-respecting Assamese and Indians at large,” BJP’s Dass said.

AIUDF’s organising secretary Md. Aminul Islam said that contrary to BJP’s allegations, the party would not have a chief ministerial candidate of its own and would support the Congress candidate for the post. A common minimum programme (CMP) of the grand-alliance will be announced later, he said.

Besides the BJP and its coalition partners and the Congress-AIUDF grand alliance, several other parties are also planning to make a debut this time to catch in on the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, sentiment that had resonated across most parts of the state last year.

Also Read: ‘Narendra Modi is scared of Rahul Gandhi only’: Assam Congress leader

All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) have constituted a 16-member advisory committee to recommend on the likely formation of a political outfit by the two influential organisations.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), another outfit that spearheaded the anti-CAA stir, has announced its plan to launch a political party. The outfit’s leader Akhil Gogoi, who is lodged in Guwahati Central Jail since last December for his alleged role in the anti-CAA stir, is likely to be its CM face.

Also Read: ‘Together, we shall overcome’: Assam Police tweets tribute video to celebrate brave corona warriors

Journalist-turned-politician Ajit Bhuyan, who became a RS member earlier this year with the combined support of the Congress and the AIUDF, has also floated an outfit called Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

“The grand alliance and formation of new parties won’t affect our vote bank. We have 4.2 million dedicated workers in Assam. If each one of them is able to bring an additional vote, we will have 8.4 million votes, which would be sufficient to bring us back to power,” claimed Dass.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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